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Lucy Dacus Is Her Own Unreliable Narrator

Ebry Yildiz
Courtesy of the artist
"I feel like music is just a facet of my life, like it doesn't take hierarchical dominance over the people that I love and it never will," Lucy Dacus says. Her third album, Home Video, depicts memories and relationships from her years growing up in Richmond, Va.

Songwriter Lucy Dacus grew up spending summers at Vacation Bible School and during the school year, sometimes skipping class to go to the movies with her friends in her hometown of Richmond, Va. Her third and latest album, Home Video, is an autobiographical, coming-of-age tale that borrows from those real life events she's tracked in journals since she was young.

"While I was writing all the songs, I would think of a specific memory and then just go find that one entry," she says, "and it's weird to see how your memory and how your documentation are different."

What Dacus discovered while reading her old journals as an adult was what an unreliable narrator she was as a kid — how the act of writing down memories isn't a perfect encapsulation of truth.

"It really shows you how memory is just like a fiction that you come up with," she says. "I'd like, write what I wanted to remember and leave out the details that I wouldn't."

Just like writing down a memory in a journal crystalizes a moment in time, Dacus says that writing a song feels like a culmination, too — but she's starting to wonder if it's possible to pen an ending.

"I've always thought it's the end of a story to write a song; it's like the credits rolling," she says. "But I recently realized that's just the middle of understanding, and I feel like more of my life just feels like the middle. I've just been sitting with this feeling that there's no such thing as closure."

Lucy Dacus spoke to NPR's All Things Considered about playing with memory on Home Video, how she's changed her mind about objecting at her friend's wedding like she sings about on "Christine," and how the violent, bad dad anthem "Thumbs" is about love more so than pain.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Ailsa Chang is an award-winning journalist who hosts All Things Considered along with Ari Shapiro, Audie Cornish, and Mary Louise Kelly. She landed in public radio after practicing law for a few years.
Mano Sundaresan is a producer at NPR.